Thursday, May 06, 2010

Seeds of Sox Strengths Starting to Sprout

Pitching. Defense. Timely hitting. It's starting to sizzle a bit at Fenway in the way Theo and crew drew it up.

It's been doom and gloom in the baseball column of Sportstown, USA, but the last four games have me feeling a whole lot better than last weekend's meltdown at Camden Yards.

Last weekend's series sweep by B-more was a crying shame. Dice K had it working for four innings in his debut, but then, it became batting practice... It was awful to watch an already-dejected Wakefield enter from the bullpen only to let the O's think they were the Rays. Poor Wake. He may end up back in the rotation if Matsuzaka can't figure it out.

There were, however, two bright spots over the weekend. Two homers in one game from Ortiz and an improved Josh Beckett. Yes, they lost the game he pitched on Sunday, but Beckett pitched nicely: 7 innings, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts. Considering what it has been coming from the big Texan, I will take that all day long and then some.

Back at Fenway, it's been a very nice week of beating up on the Angels with the bats and letting the top starters do their thing. Last night, John Lackey threw the best I've seen all season. His fastball moved and it sunk. Lackey's line: 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 12 ground ball outs.

Lester was dominate again: 8 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts. Buchholz pitched decently, though, he still looks very timid out there at times and gets rattled when there are men on base. His biggest issue in my observation is the same one Beckett has had this season: Throwing strike one. He was saved by crazy offense Monday night when the bats muscled up 17 runs (with Mike Lowell going 4 for 4 with 4 RBIs).

Buch's line: 5.2 innings, 4 earned runs, 8 hits, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts.

Other key things to note: Beltre and Scutaro are showing their value on both sides of the game. Beltre has had two home runs over the last few games (his firsts of the season), and has made some excellent plays at third. Beltre hit a bomb last night to straight away center (over the camera well)  in the 8th inning to give the Sox a 3-1 lead and an insurance run.

Scutaro has been getting on base at a high clip (filling in at lead off for an injured Navajo Jewish Lawyer) and also flashing his skills up the middle and in the hole on defense. It's been refreshing to see both of these guys play up to their talents on the left side of the infield after a few weeks of questionable defense.

Beltre is hitting well-above average at .340, and Scutaro is hitting a nice .288.

So, tonight... Well, the Sox face Scott Kazmir who was good when with the Rays, but now he's all over the place. On the mound for the Fenway Faithful is Andrew Dice K and his 11.57 ERA (not fair, only one start, but damn it was ugly).

Will it be another batting practice or will our $150 million pitcher feel comfortable at home?

BTW: Ortiz hit a single and opposite field home run last night. Hope he keeps it up.

[Image by johnkreese.nomaa via Flickr cc 3.0]